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04.03.2006 Business & Finance

Reassigning border control would jeopardise security

By GNA

Accra, March 4, GNA - The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) on Saturday, described moves to reassign its border patrols and control responsibilities to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) as sacrificing the territorial security of the country. "GIS lacks the professional capacity to confront cross-border crime, trade frauds, smuggling, signal national security on acts of subversion and violations of our territorial sovereignty and integrity detect anti-terrorist activities.

"It is the view of CEPS that implementation of the intended policy would greatly jeopardize national security interest, disrupt trade facilitation and cause irreparable distraction to high technological security mechanism," CEPS Senior and Junior Staffs Associations stated in a paper to the Government.

The Ghana News Agency obtained the paper jointly signed by Mr Christopher Larweh and Mr Ken Nyabe National, Chairman of the Senior and Junior Staff Associations respectively to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and the Minister of the Interior, on Saturday.

"GIS lacks the capacity to deal effectively with national security, which endanger effort for combating cross-border crime, undermine anti-terrorism initiatives and exposed the national frontiers to scrupulous elements in society."

It explained that border patrol and control demanded expertise and technical skills in rummaging, examining and processing merchandise, as well as tariff application, valuation and classification, which Immigration officials lack.

The duties also involved professional and technical expertise to interpret and implement international conventions, protocols, standards and instruments, which require reciprocal observance by Customs officials in contracting countries.

The Paper explained that CEPS operations entailed the employment of non-intrusive methods of inspection and examination of goods, application of risk-management methods to cargo treatment and the use of advance electronic information exchanges to facilitate the speedy clearance of goods while guaranteeing revenue generation and accountability.

CEPS also protected sensitive national interest at the points of entry, which included ensuring, that prohibited and restricted goods, dangerous, subversive and harmful articles and substances did not enter the country.

The CEPS staffs noted that after 'September 11th,' the international trend in combating crime is to vest ultimate border control authority in Customs with an enhanced role under which Immigration concerns are sub-summed.

Developed countries had increased the capacity and effectiveness of Customs to play a dominant and leading role in border control operations.

This movement is towards providing the human logistics and modern gadgets and instruments to equip Customs to buoy its capacity to confront cross-border crime and anti-terrorist activities while securing trade, optimal revenue collection, protection and accountability. "This lack of competencies in the knowledge and application of customs operational regimes would render the GIS patrol gangs at our entry points incapable of taking decisive revenue decisions when goods are intercepted together with human traffic in the course of performing their patrol duties, which would greatly affect national revenue mobilisation effort."

The paper explained that if the reassigning proposal was implemented, the cumulative effect would be a massive dip in revenue generation; import and Value Added Tax revenue would suffer greatly with dire consequences for national economy, which relies on optimal revenue collections as the prime driver of economic prosperity.

The establishment of GIS patrol unit, according to CEPS would duplicate traditional preventive border control functions of Customs, delay and hinder trade facilitation, increase bureaucracy and red-tape in processing goods and merchandise.

According to CEPS such a move would kill the essence of the Gateway project to which Government had and continue to expend so much resources for its implementation.

"It would roll back significantly efforts at easing and ensuring the seamless movement of goods at our borders. The unsatisfactory situation of increased border bureaucracy, red-tape, delays and resultant arbitrariness would be worsened by the lack of professional skill of the armed patrolling GIS staff to process goods merchandise and process trade in general."

Such a situation would stifle the progressive and systematic efforts made at trade facilitation at our entry points. The CEPS Staffs called on the Government to reconsider the intended reassigning of responsibilities, as national territorial security would be affected. 4 March 06

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